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Tom Brewer

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43

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08-05-2022 Weekly Update
October 3rd, 2022

Since 2019, almost $30M has been spent on grants and other business incentives to improve broadband internet access in rural Nebraska. Over sixty different projects brought broadband internet to over 17,000 rural Nebraska households in 2019. LB 388 was passed in 2021. It added another $20M to the broadband grant program in 2021 and 2022. In 2022 we passed LB 1024. $40M of the money in this bill will be split between congressional district one and three to help expand broadband internet in rural Nebraska.

The legislature has defined the term “unserved” as areas that don’t have access to at least 25 megabytes (MB) download and 3 MB upload. “Underserved” areas are as those without access 100 MB download and 20 MB upload. Roughly 10% of rural Nebraska falls into the “unserved” category today. Since work in the legislature started in 2018, roughly 40% of rural Nebraska was considered “unserved” back then so progress has definitely been made.

I am proud of the work done by the legislature, the Public Service Commission and the Broadband Taskforce to bring fast internet to the many under-served communities in western Nebraska. Much of the credit for this goes to Sen. Kurt Friesen who finished his term in the legislature this year. He was the champion for this policy issue that will be hard to replace. Much remains to be done. 

I will continue to be a strong supporter of this issue until every corner of the state has access to high-speed, high-quality broadband internet service. Like electricity, internet has become ‘critical infrastructure’ to our communities. Sparsely-populated areas in Nebraska are often the last to receive a new technological advancement. A number of towns and counties in western Nebraska didn’t get electricity until after World War II. 

Much of the new technology allowing family farmers and ranchers to increase efficiencies and boost their profits depends on a high-speed internet connection. Agriculture is the #1 industry in Nebraska, yet many producers often struggle to use the new precision technology because they live somewhere without broadband internet. 

Many Nebraskans learned during the China virus that fast, reliable internet is essential for people to work from home, take online classes, and for healthcare facilities to offer tele-medicine with patients who would otherwise have to travel considerable distances. Nebraskans living in the western end of the state should have these same opportunities. I look forward to continuing to work on this important issue.

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43
Room 1423
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2628
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